Recently I had to take Maura into the vet because she wasn't eating much and was vomiting foam. They discovered that she was missing a few tiny front teeth in her lower jaw and her front upper gums were bright red. I believe it's because she's a chewer and I let her chew silver vine sticks whenever she wanted- which was often.
After a week of antibiotics and pain medication she's back to eating and no vomiting, although her gums are still a bit red. I took the sticks away for now. When her mouth is completely healed I'll let her have one and monitor her chewing closely.
What I learned form the vet, though, was that bright red gums (gingivitis) could be a symptom of Bartonella, aka Cat Scratch Disease. Since Maura is very bitey and playful- meaning scratches, I decided to have her tested. This protects her and me from some pretty nasty affects from the bacteria. Other reasons for having her checked is she was found infested with fleas and wandering the streets in an area with a high incidence of the disease- Tennessee (the area also includes Georgia, Florida, Alabama, & Mississippi). The second area with a high incidence is Washington/Oregon/California. About 30% of healthy cats in the U.S are carriers.
Bartonella is spread by fleas and ticks and effects dogs, too. Cats seem to contract it more often, though. Dogs tend to get it from ticks. The good news is after a simple blood test, if they test positive, it's treatable with antibiotics. Once you see the symptoms you, too, might be interested in getting your bitey scratchy kitty that is a rescued stray, flea-infested, outdoor kitty, or lived(s) in a hot and humid climate tested- for your health and hers/his.
Cat Symptoms include: gingivitis, stomatitis, conjunctivitis, corneal ulcer, upper respiratory infection, skin papules, and so much more.
Dog symptoms include: lameness, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, heart valve disease, and platelet disorders.
Human symptoms include: persistent fever, enlarged lymph nodes, conjunctivitis, other eye diseases, and a red papule at the site of the bite/scratch. If it gets really bad it creates a number of serious neurological disorders.
Be informed and talk to your vet. For more details see- https://www.natvetlab.com/bartonella.php